It’s no big secret that Brooklyn has been the home for some mighty happening music lately, but there are few bands with as unique a vibe and presence as Crystal Stilts. Formed in 2003 by Brad Hargett and JB Townsend, they quickly recorded their debut single “Shattered Shine” with their mate Sean Mafucci (Gang Gang Dance, Kid Congo Powers). The combination of Brad’s deep and mysterious vocals with JB’s classicist
garagey twang struck an immediate chord with New York’s music lovers, and 2005 and 2006 saw the band play with everyone from Blood On The Wall and caUSE co-MOTION! to The Long Blondes and 1990s, culminating in the addition of organ player Kyle Forrester (Ladybug Transistor) and the recording of a 4 song EP.
2007 and 2008 were busy for the band as well, rounding out the line-up with bassist Andy Adler (The Ninjas) and drummer extraordinaire Frankie Rose (ex-Vivian Girls), and playing a string of insane shows with the likes of The Clean and The Vaselines. Recently, Brooklyn’s Woodsist label reissued the band’s single and EP to great acclaim from folks like Pitchfork and Stereogum. Along the way they’ve been working on the tracks for their eagerly-anticipated debut album, taking their time to ensure that each tune contributes just the right amount to the whole, crafting a perfect album with which to realize their distinctive music vision.
And now Slumberland is very proud to bring you Alight of Night, an album that more than delivers on the promise of those early singles. So what’s it like, you ask? There is a definite flavor of The Velvet Underground to be had, but Crystal Stilts’ spectral avant-garage also takes in such far-flung references as: the spooked 60s Texas psych of 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola, the gothic blues/punk howl of Gun Club, the dark, experimental DIYism of early Flying Nun/Xpressway groups Pin Group and Plagal Grind, and a post-punk minimalism that brings to mind early Rough Trade and Factory releases.
There is definitely a strong pop element as well, with the buzzsaw bubblegum of early Mary Chain b-sides and Meat Whiplash coming to mind.
These are all just rough points of reference, though — Alight of Night is far more than just the sum of the bands influences. From the twang ‘n’ echo of “Crystal Stilts” to the primal pop stomp of “Prismatic Room” and the lovelyjangle of “Shattered Shine,” the band always adds something extra and unique to the mix, whether it’s a fleeting dash of harmonica, a hypnotic organ line or just an amazing guitar sound. There is a unity of purpose at work here, a special mood conjured by the sounds, production and sequence of songs that lifts this album into the realm of the classics, and reveals new
twists and turns on each listen.
Like all great albums, every piece just sits in exactly the right place, each song builds on the last and by the end you couldn’t imagine changing anything about it at all. Eerily familiar but totally now, Alight of Night is a brilliantly haunting slice of rock primitivism.
people like Crystal Stilts…
“These are weird pop songs you clap your hands along to. They pile a rockabilly riff and
nursery school melodies onto a revved-up bass line and sweet surfy 60s organ riff on top of minimalist percussion.” – Pitchfork
“Instead of lumping references on top of each other, they tackle their influences head on and strip them to their bare essentials. Instead of trying to hide the influences they highlight them and bring out the best in them.” – In The Crowd
“it has that classic first ten Creation releases era sound mixed with a drummer raised on a diet of only Moe Tucker and laura from the shop assistants.” – Rough Trade
Aug 01 2008 Silent Barn Brooklyn, New York*
Aug 04 2008 Great Scott Boston, Massachusetts*
Aug 05 2008 Zoobizarre Montreal, Quebec*
Aug 06 2008 Sneaky Dees Toronto, Ontario*
Aug 07 2008 Zooleggers West Lafayette, Indiana*
Aug 08 2008 Subterranean Chicago, Illinois*
Aug 10 2008 Bears Place Bloomington, Indiana*
Aug 11 2008 Cafe Bourbon Street Columbus, Ohio*
Aug 12 2008 Rickety House Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania*
Aug 13 2008 DC9 DC, Washington DC*
Aug 14 2008 Bull City Durham, North Carolina*
Aug 15 2008 Nerve Center Baltimore, Maryland*
Aug 16 2008 Pi Lam Philadelphia, Pennsylvania*
Aug 22 2008 Death by Audio, Brooklyn, New York*
* = w/ Vivian Girls
Alight of Night
Street date: Oct. 28, 2008
1. The Dazzled
2. Crystal Stilts
3. Graveyard Orbit
4. Prismatic Room
5. The SinKing
7. Shattered Shine
8. Verdant Gaze
9. Bright Night
10. Spiral Transit
11. The City In The Sea
CRYSTAL STILTS LINKS: